Curu Wildlife Refuge and Tortuga island

Dec 11, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion

In our first day of exploration, National Geographic Sea Lion took us to Curu Wildlife Refuge.

Located within the shallow Gulf of Nicoya, this private protected area is an example of the nation’s efforts to work together in conservation between the public and private sector. In order to extend the territory covered by forest, biological corridors reduce to flora and fauna pressure for habitat.

An old mango and teak wood plantation was turned into a protected area in which the amount of wildlife seen today was just stunning. Even the endangered white-tailed deer is abundant, and we saw adults and juveniles. Then a large number of individuals and troops of white-faced capuchin monkeys showed us their omnivorous behavior as they were in search for insects, fruits, leaves and even meat as we saw them along our hike.

Howler monkeys started calling, like if they were jealous because we were seeing the white-faced monkeys. We heard a troop that was probably at least one mile away, but because their hyoid bone is about 20 times larger than that one of other species and it works as an amplifier of sounds, they seemed to be right at our back. Another pack of them approached us and allowed us to notice the difference in their look and behavior compared to the capuchin monkeys. Howlers are more lethargic because they feed primarily on leaves and leaves are hard to digest due to the cellulose content and the lack of an enzyme in the howlers to digest it.

The highlight of the day was a juvenile tamandua or anteater who was feeding by the path. We enjoyed its presence granting us a clear view as it moved through the understory of the forest.

Agoutis, white-nosed coatis, raccoons, geacarcinus crabs known as Halloween crabs due to their colors, and lots of birds such as squirrel cuckoos, the elusive long-tailed manakin, green-breasted mango hummingbirds and crested caracaras among others as well as black spiny-tailed lizards, and even a large boa constrictor were present in this magnificent reserve.

In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to kayak, stand-up paddleboard and relax by the beautiful beach at Tortuga Island in the warm waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean to finish our successful first day of exploration having a delicious barbeque dinner that the galley generously prepared for us under the light of the moon.

And tomorrow will be another beautiful day in paradise!

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About the Author

Ronaldo Calvo


Ronald Calvo grew up in the province of Cartago in Costa Rica.  He earned degrees in geography and ecotourism at the University of Costa Rica.  He has done consulting work for the non-profit Fundación Neotropica on a management plan for Palo Verde and Barra Honda National Parks, and advised on water resources for several communities in the Turrubares, Central Pacific region of Costa Rica.

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